AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: STEPHANIE JULIAN
Stephanie Julian has agreed to let this bunny pester her with all kinds of questions.
Stephanie what is your most current work out ?
What A Goddess Wants is the first book in the Forgotten Goddesses series, published by Sourcebooks. It’s linked to my Magical Seduction and Lucani Lovers series from Ellora’s Cave and will feature some of the same characters from those series.
Blurb: Tessa, Etruscan Goddess of the Dawn, is losing her powers and now there’s an Underworld god determined to run her down. She needs a hero and fast, because only sexual energy can give her power. So she seeks out Caligo, whose sexual prowess is legendary.
Caligo is a fabled Cimmerian warrior determined to stay away from spoiled goddesses who trample hearts after they’ve had their fun. But there’s something irresistibly hot and inviting about Tessa and he knows he’s her only change to escape the encroaching darkness.
Tell us a little about what inspired you to write What A Goddess Wants?
From the very beginning of the Etruscan series, I’d always known the deities would have their own stories because I’m fascinated with mythology. Gods and goddesses are usually spoiled and arrogant but I wanted to know what happens to them when their followers dwindle and their powers fade and people aren’t tossing virgins at them anymore.
I chose the Etruscan pantheon as opposed to the Roman or Greek because those have been done before. And there really isn’t a lot known about the Etruscans. There was just enough to give me the basis of a really good mythology and then I could embellish from there.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
I’m usually a pantser but because I wrote the Forgotten Goddesses series on proposal, I had to have a synopsis. I used that more as a guideline, though my mind’s pretty good about following along on all the plot points.
That doesn’t mean I don’t give the characters free rein. Because my stories are mainly driven by emotion as opposed to plot, I have to listen to the characters to make sure the story is headed in the right direction.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I love to read the genre so of course, this is what I love to write. I originally started writing series contemporary and sold two short contemporaries to Avalon Books under the name Stephanie Scott. But then I got this idea about witches, but I didn’t want to do Celtic witches. Everyone who was writing witches was doing Celtic. I wanted to do something different, something that could reflect my Italian heritage. After a little research, I found the streghe, Italian witches, and never looked back.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I have a few and of course, they’re almost all men. Caligo from What A Goddess Wants is the most recent favorite. He’s just so damn male. I love him. I also love, love, love Sal. Sal’s got some issues, having the lower body of a goat being just one of them. I also have a thing for Cam from Seduced & Ensnared and Kyle from Kiss of Moonlight. Two more alpha men who melt my heart.
My favorite female character is Cat. She’s just such a sweetheart and when I started writing Kiss of Moonlight, she was just so vivid, a fully developed character ready to go.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Lucy, AKA Lusna, Etruscan Goddess of the Moon. She’s the next goddess you’ll get to meet in How To Worship A Goddess (December 2011). She’s one cool cookie and I had a hard time getting inside her head. She’s got the responsibility for two sons and for the lucani, the Etruscan werewolves, who worship her as their patron goddess. But when she meets the man who’s meant for her, she doesn’t quite know what to do with him. She figures it out but it took me some time to figure out her motivations.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I have to be boring and say no. The characters are so totally in my head. That said, my stories are almost all set in and around Reading and Berks County, Pennsylvania, where I was born and raised and still live. As a former reporter (and a current freelance feature writer) for the local daily paper, I’ve seen a lot of the nooks and crannies of the county and city, which was laid out by the sons of William Penn and has been settled since the 1700s. I use a lot of real places in my stories and I think that gives a realistic flavor to the stories.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The end of the book. I typically don’t get stuck on the middle, like a lot of writers. I almost always get stuck at the end. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I don’t want the book to be over, to say goodbye to the characters I’ve fallen in love with. Mostly, I think it’s because I’m a perfectionist in my writing and I think everything has to be perfect. My house usually looks like a tribe of Lost Boys lives in it but I can’t write “The End” until I think it’s just right.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I love to run. I run very slowly and I only started about 14 years ago but I’m really hooked on it. I started to run after my second son was born and I couldn’t get that damn baby weight to take a hike. I hooked up with a friend who’d been running for more years than I’d been alive and she helped me find my rhythm. My husband and oldest son also run, much faster than me, but I love when my guys and I get out on the trail for a few miles together.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I love those cheesy movies on the Syfy Channel on Saturday nights. “Mega Python vs Gatoroid” was sheer genius, in my opinion. When the snake ate Mickey Dolenz, I nearly fell on the floor laughing. I also love the “Evil Dead” movies, mostly because I adore Bruce Campbell and will stop whatever I’m doing to watch any movie or TV show he’s in.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
My email box has to be cleared in the morning before I can start to write. Weird, I know. And after lunch, I have to have my Junior Mints. I can’t write if I don’t have a few of those minty morsels melting on my tongue.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
I can’t write to music, but I plot to music. When I run, I almost always have my iPod and do some of my best plotting. People along the trail think I’m crazy when I start talking to myself, which is usually me saying, “Damn, that’s exactly what I needed. Why didn’t I think of that before?”
Many of my scenes are written with a specific song in mind. Most recently, Avenged Sevenfold’s “Victim” was on heavy rotation as I plotted one of the last scenes in What A Goddess Wants. Bullet For My Valentine, My Chemical Romance, Disturbed, Slipknot and Glee (yes, I’m a huge Gleek) also have influenced my writing.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Well, Cal’s physical model is Jensen Ackles from “Supernatural” and actually, he’d make a great Cal. Tessa… Hmm, I have to think about that one. Tessa is actually based on the personality of a friend I’ve known most of my life but the actress I’d pick to play her would be Reese Witherspoon. Physically and characteristically, she’s perfect.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
It was the summer of 2003. I had submitted a book to Avalon months before and had heard nothing. So I called. Turns out the editor had been trying to reach me for weeks but I must have screwed up the phone number on my submission (this was before email submissions). Of course, I called my husband and my critique partners, then I told my boys, who were more impressed that we were getting pizza for supper to celebrate.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was in sixth grade when I discovered my mom’s stash of romance books under her bed. Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Wolf and The Dove was a life-changer for me. That’s the one that started it all. I’d always been a voracious reader but that book took me into another realm of reading that I’d never known existed. It was like finding my way through the looking glass.
What is your favorite genre to read if you have time?
Paranormal erotic romance and I always have the time to read. Every night before bed, as a matter of fact.
Do you have an all time favorite book you have read? written?
There are just too many. I love JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changelings and Lora Leigh’s Breeds. Suz Brockmann’s Tall Dark and Deadly Silhouette series is still one of my favorites as is Cait London’s Tallchief series. Julie Porter’s Harlequin Presents remain on my keeper shelf as do JD Robb’s In Death series and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. But I think Tara Janzen’s Crazy Cool might just be my all-time favorite contemporary. No one beats Superman.
Of my own stories, my favorite is always the one I’m working on right now, which happens to be two stories at the moment. I will admit to a slight preference for Seduced By Magic just because it was my first erotic romance. And you always remember your first.
If you still have one of those pesky day jobs what is it?
I’ve been a writer since I graduated from college, worked full time for a daily local newspaper for seven years before I left to go freelance after the birth of my first son. I absolutely hated working cityside, where I covered municipal and school board meetings, but I loved editing the Weekend section and reviewing movies, shows and concerts. After I left, I began writing garden features, which I continue to do, as well as theater and concert reviews. I’ve reviewed everyone from B.B. King and Lamb of God to Journey and Sara Evans.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
At the moment, I’m working on the third book in the Forgotten Goddesses series, Goddess In the Middle. Yes, it’s a ménage featuring Amity, the Goddess of Health. I’m also finishing up the fifth book in the Lucani Lovers series, Grace in Moonlight, and I’m plotting a short story with Cat and Ty from the Lucani Lovers series. I’m hoping to have that release in October or November.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”?
I smile sweetly and say, “You have no idea what you’re missing. I’m so sorry your life is so dull!”
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Junior Mints. I’m a confessed and well-known Junior Mints addict. Have been since I was child. I blame my mom.